Hummingbirds and Hooves Take over the Red Carpet at Met Gala 

US actress Zendaya arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York. The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. The Gala's 2024 theme is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” (AFP)
US actress Zendaya arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York. The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. The Gala's 2024 theme is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” (AFP)
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Hummingbirds and Hooves Take over the Red Carpet at Met Gala 

US actress Zendaya arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York. The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. The Gala's 2024 theme is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” (AFP)
US actress Zendaya arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York. The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. The Gala's 2024 theme is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” (AFP)

From Bad Bunny's Tudor-inspired hat and shoes resembling cloven hooves to the hummingbird perched delicately on Zendaya's neck, the hosts set the tone at fashion's biggest night -- the annual Met Gala in New York.

Florals, animals and vintage couture abounded at the so-called Oscars of the East Coast, a mammoth fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

The extravaganza's dress code this year is "The Garden of Time" -- which draws inspiration from the 1962 short story of the same name, written by English writer J.G. Ballard.

In essence, it is about the ephemeral nature of beauty -- perhaps a weighty theme to press on the luminaries attending this year's gala.

For sheer drama, co-host Zendaya dominated the green and cream carpet in her first appearance at the Met Gala since 2019.

The 27-year-old star made a highly-anticipated appearance early on wreathed in jewel-toned lame, organza and satin designed by John Galliano, with vines crawling up her duchess corset and arms -- and what appeared to be a hummingbird nestled into her neck.

Hours later she made a surprise second appearance -- this time in dramatic, Mexican Gothic-inspired black, her two outfits bookending the fashion parade and underscoring the transience of beauty.

Most attendees chose to evoke awakenings and life -- and perhaps defied the theme by demonstrating the immortality of fashion through the centuries, with many 17th and 18th century flourishes.

Some -- such as singer Lana del Rey -- emphasized decay, with stark sculptural twigs rising from her gown to hold a veil of tulle like a canopy over her head.

South African singer Tyla's strapless Balmain gown evoking the sands of time -- right down to the hourglass purse -- was sculpted so tightly to her body that she had to be carried up the steps at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny evoked a kind of Tudor matador with a sweeping hat and a black bouquet, with the only pop of color his bright red inseam and the patent shine of his cloven shoes.

Cardi B was resplendent in funereal black, with a train so expansive it required nine tuxedoed men to lift it up the stairs.

"It's a black rose," she told journalists.

- 'Mysterious and unexpected' -

Celebrity interpretation of Met Gala themes have been wide-ranging and often sparked social media debate -- but attendees this year appeared to shrug off the pressure.

"I don't even think there's pressure at all, I think it's more of an opportunity," actor Colman Domingo, who carried a bouquet in a lily-colored caped jacket and wide-leg trousers, told journalists.

The theme parallels the exhibit "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion," which focuses on the most fragile pieces of the Costume Institute's vast collection.

The show, which will be on view for the public from May 10 through September 2, features clothing so delicate it cannot be displayed on mannequins.

The Costume Institute relies on the blockbuster Met Gala to fund its work, including exhibitions and acquisitions.

The gala was first held in 1948 and for decades was reserved for New York high society. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, the high priestess of US fashion, took over the show in the 1990s, transforming the party into a catwalk for the rich and famous.

This year, a ticket cost a cool $75,000, with tables starting at $350,000. The 2023 gala -- which celebrated the late designer Karl Lagerfeld -- raised nearly $22 million, a record sum.

But what exactly goes on inside is an enduring mystery.

"Something mysterious, I'm sure, and unexpected," actor Jeff Goldblum told journalists on the red carpet, dressed as a count swathed in Tiffany jewels.

Guests are likely to peruse the exhibit, and stars such as Rihanna -- whose command of the red carpet is usually unparalleled, but who did not appear at this year's gala -- have performed in the past.

- Social media frenzy -

The spectacle is social media catnip for celebrity watchers -- and once again this year, both the gala and the exhibit are co-sponsored by TikTok.

The tech world joined luminaries of music, film, politics and sports on the carpet, with TikTok CEO Shou Chew, also an honorary co-chair, in attendance.

Outside the event, several hundred protesters against the war in Gaza demonstrated nearby, with security tight and several arrests made as stars walked the red carpet.



Sabato De Sarno Unveils Gucci Precision Saturated in Color to Close Milan Fashion Week

 A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
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Sabato De Sarno Unveils Gucci Precision Saturated in Color to Close Milan Fashion Week

 A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)

It’s been creative director musical chairs at some of Italy’s top fashion houses, and the pressure is showing, at least on social media.

Gucci’s Sabato De Sarno presented his third collection in Milan on Monday, still the most highly anticipated runway show of the week as Gucci undergoes a major style transition.

Hours earlier, Valentino, the fashion house that snapped up his predecessor Alessandro Michele, launched images on social media of Michele’s first resort collection for Rome-based Valentino, which previews its collections in Paris. Commentators couldn’t help but notice the similarities to his Gucci years.

Anyone with complicated family dynamics can understand just how fraught the timing was. Gucci is owned by the French conglomerate Kering, which has a 30-percent stake in Valentino, an important but not determinant share. Add to that, De Sarno is a Valentino alum, whose recent resort collection included a pussy bow that was one of the codes Michele brought to Gucci.

Michele's runway debut for Valentino is expected in Paris for womenswear previews in September.

Some highlights from the fourth and final day of Milan Fashion Week, mostly menswear previews for Spring-Summer 2025:

Gucci saturates precise silhouette Sabato De Sarno’s sophomore menswear collection for Gucci was all about precise silhouettes saturated in color. A long, acid-green bonded leather coat over thigh-baring shorts and a netted shirt set the tone for an outing that was both rigorous and edgy.

Models strode through the atrium of Milan’s Triennale design museum, in tribute to De Sarno’s view of museums as "nourishing" spaces. In that vein, he invited 400 fashion students to watch the show, and was meeting with them afterward. Part of the brand’s relaunch has been moving to spaces away from the sprawling Gucci Hub on Milan’s outskirts, as De Sarno lays claim to Italy’s fashion capital one venue at a time.

His Spring-Summer 2025 collection featured wearable elements easily composed to one’s desire, reflecting De Sarno’s wish "that people feel free and welcomed in my clothes."

Amid the structure of the bonded leather jackets and crisp poplin suits, there was a lot of movement, in undulating, vivid repeating prints of surfers and dolphins on boxy bowling shirts, shimmering beaded fringe jackets in shades of lemon or lime, and long-sleeve hand-knit polo shirts sparkling with embedded sequins. A subtle jacquard was a rare sign of the Gucci logo.

Fresh styling conceits included chunky sunglasses that, when not worn, could be strapped backward around the neck with a brightly colored Gucci cord. Highly constructed bags were inspired by archival luggage, and include detachable pieces. Sneakers and scuba slip-ons featured molded soles.

Media-shy De Sarno said in press notes that the collection "speaks about freedom."

"I feel free when there is no distance between my words and my thoughts, between my actions and my heart,” he wrote.

Serena and Venus Williams serve up some Gucci De Sarno has the full endorsement of Serena Williams, who sat in the front row between Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault and her sister Venus.

“It was a beautiful collection. I think Sabato is a great designer,” Serena Williams said backstage. “Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Williams, dressed in a pretty peach suit with a sparkly knit top, was joined by sister Venus, wearing a Gucci Pantone red leather coat. Venus also showed up at JW Anderson's show Sunday night. Also on hand was Irish actor Paul Mescal, keeping cool in striped shorts and a GG monogrammed blue dress shirt.

Giorgio Armani's North Star There has been one constant at the Giorgio Armani fashion house for the last 49 years, and that’s Giorgio Armani.

His looks are a steady evolution of the relaxed tailoring that has characterized his fashion empire.

Soothing hues set the mood for the Spring-Summer 2024 collection, where the loose, often pleated, trousers were the star. Jackets were worn open, and shirts were often collarless or with casual shawl collars. Silken trousers featured big side pleats, billowing with each step. Small slit pockets provided utility. Vests added a ruffian flair, with or without shirts. Scrunchy sun hats were packable.

Models walked slowly, deliberately, on a runway surrounded by video images of tropical plants — a motif of the season. Some smiled, as the designer has urged in recent seasons.

Turning 90 next month, Armani remains firmly at the center of his fashion group, launched in 1975, and is always on hand to take a bow after his shows.

This round, he was joined by his long-time right-hand-man Leo Dell’Orco, who heads the group's men's style office, and Gianluca Dell’Orco, head of Giorgio Armani men's styling office.

Russell Crowe was front row for the show at Armani’s Milan theater. Clad in jeans, the actor said he was jet-lagged and wanted to be comfortable. He may well have spotted something from the runway that fits that bill.